When he turns his key in the lock of his London home at the end of a long day, Daniel Tredget knows he will be greeted by an immaculate house, a hot meal and — more often than not — the delicious, soul-warming smell of a freshly baked cake.
While Daniel, who works as an accountant, has spent his day immersed in spreadsheets and client meetings, his wife, Emily, will have spent hers sieving flour, chopping vegetables and ironing his shirts.
It’s a domestic set-up straight out of the Fifties, which bears little resemblance to the frantic, juggling lifestyles of most families today. Yet Daniel and Emily aren’t a staid, middle-aged couple set in their ways. At just 30 and 28 respectively, they’re the most modern of Britons: millennials.
Born between the early Eighties and late Nineties, millennials are from a generation that celebrates its liberal values, priding itself on equality in all things — especially between the genders. But lately, there has been a sense of rebellion among the ranks.
Why? Increasing numbers of high-flying millennial women are turning their backs on the workplace to be stay-at-home mothers.
Recent studies have found that young adults are more likely than their parents to support traditional gender roles, with a study published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly finding that 32 per cent of millennials believe men are best suited to being breadwinners and women homemakers. This figure is up an incredible 27 per cent from the Nineties.
The figures tie in with those showing the popularity of marriage is rising after 40 years’ decline and that millennials are more socially conservative than previous generations.
The movement is also fuelled by glossy websites and blogs that promote staying at home to women — one such site offers a support group to millennial housewives, while the hashtag #wifelife has around half-a-million mentions on Instagram.
So, why are young women ditching hard-won — and often lucrative — jobs in favour of homemaking? It’s certainly not because of a dearth of career options. Millennial women outstripped their male peers at school and university, entered professions such as medicine and law in greater numbers than men and now out-earn them in the workplace — by an average of £1,111 a year.
Emily has five A-grade A-levels, a degree in material sciences from Oxford and had a high-flying job as a strategic consultant at drinks company Innocent before giving birth to her son, Oliver, who is now two.
‘I never in a million years thought I’d be a stay-at-home mum,’ she says. Emily returned to work two days a week when Oliver was a year old, but she was quickly disillusioned.
‘It just didn’t work for me,’ she says. ‘I’ve always given 150 per cent to any job I’ve had — and suddenly, I couldn’t.’
This fear of no longer excelling is what clinical psychologist Christine Langhoff believes is prompting some high-flying millennial mothers — unused to failure after years of shining educationally — to quit the world of work.
‘Women who are highly educated often fall into the perfectionist category, and they don’t want to do a mediocre job,’ she explains.
‘Educated women also understand the benefits of being there when the children are little, and will see their time at home as valuable breathing space from the frenetic pace of life, where they can apply themselves to motherhood wholeheartedly.’
Emily, whose own mother stayed at home, found that trying to juggle her job and motherhood left her feeling inadequate on all fronts.
SOURCE: LAUREN LIBBERT